Associated Press International News Spain WRECKAGE PAN AM KLM 747

The wreckage of the Pan American World Airways 747 aircraft and KLM Boeing 747 jumbo are scattered over the runway at the airport in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain, Monday, March 28, 1977. The collision between the two planes killed 583 people on board. 

Today’s Highlight in History

On March 27, 1977: In aviation’s worst disaster, 583 people were killed when a KLM Boeing 747, attempting to take off in heavy fog, crashed into a Pan Am 747 on an airport runway on the Canary Island of Tenerife (ten-uh-REEF’).

On this date

In 1513: Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon sighted present-day Florida.

In 1625: Charles I acceded to the English throne upon the death of James I.

In 1794: Congress approved “An Act to provide a Naval Armament” of six armed ships.

In 1912: First lady Helen Herron Taft and the wife of Japan’s ambassador to the United States, Viscountess Chinda, planted the first two of 3,000 cherry trees given to the U.S. as a gift by the mayor of Tokyo.

In 1945: During World War II, General Dwight D. Eisenhower told reporters in Paris that German defenses on the Western Front had been broken.

In 1964: Alaska was hit by a magnitude 9.2 earthquake (the strongest on record in North America) and tsunamis that together claimed about 130 lives.

In 1968: Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin (gah-GAH’-rihn), the first man to orbit the Earth in 1961, died when his MiG-15 jet crashed during a routine training flight near Moscow; he was 34.

In 1973: “The Godfather” won the Academy Award for best picture of 1972, but its star, Marlon Brando, refused to accept his Oscar for best actor. Liza Minnelli won best actress for “Cabaret.”

In 1975: Construction began on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, which was completed two years later.

In 1980: 123 workers died when a North Sea floating oil field platform, the Alexander Kielland, capsized during a storm.

In 2019: Facebook said it was extending its ban on hate speech to prohibit the promotion and support of white nationalism and white separatism.

Ten years ago: Lawyers for Colorado theater mass shooting suspect James Holmes said he would plead guilty to the attack that killed 12 people and serve the rest of his life in prison to avoid the death penalty. (Prosecutors rejected the offer, but Holmes ended up being sentenced to life in prison anyway.) Former South African President Nelson Mandela was admitted to a hospital for pneumonia (he was discharged 10 days later).

Five years ago: Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, in an essay on The New York Times website, called for the repeal of the Second Amendment to allow for significant gun control legislation. The co-owner of a Kansas water park and a ride designer were charged with reckless second-degree murder in the decapitation of a 10-year-old boy on the ride in 2016. (A judge later dismissed the charges, finding that state prosecutors had shown inadmissible evidence to grand jurors.)

One year ago: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused the West of cowardice as his country fought to stave off Russia’s invading troops, making an exasperated plea for fighter jets and tanks to sustain a defense as the war ground into a battle of attrition. “CODA” won best picture at an Oscars ceremony marred by Will Smith's on-stage slap of Chris Rock. Smith would go on to win best actor minutes later. (Smith was later expelled from the movie academy received a 10-year ban from the Oscars.)